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Leaders for Equality - Managers Taking Opportunities

What can managers do to promote gender equality in Swiss companies for both men and women?

The goal: More women in management

Swiss companies still lack women in management. Many companies want to change this. They are looking for further measures that move beyond todays exclusive focus on promoting women. We identify the up to now largely disregarded group of male managers as key players
"Leaders for Equality" creates the necessary knowledge and develops strategies and measures that tap the potential of male managers for fostering equal opportunities at work.



Research context
The proportion of women in the management of Swiss companies remains extremely low. Company management thus leaves essential economic potential unused. At the same time, equal opportunities are not consistently guaranteed and corporate cultures and structures are still geared to male biographies. This is already known and creates a need for being implemented more strongly in gender equality activities. Although measures for the qualification and empowerment of women make sense and are necessary, the proportion of women in management positions has not increased enough so far. The assumption that the focus on women alone will change the situation does not go far enough. Individual measures for women to better reconcile career and family, to expand skills such as mentoring and seminars, to implement women's networks, etc. are, although important, not sufficient. This is because these activities are usually geared to women changing and adapting to the circumstances of the company, which is often referred to as "fixing the women". However, the necessary changes in corporate structure and culture are largely ignored.

Limiting equal opportunities to be a "women's issue", the role of male colleagues, superiors and employees has all too often remained invisible and thus also unused. Initiating the necessary cultural change, however, it is indispensable not only to get all employees in the company on board, but in particular the - still predominantly male - managers.

To succeed: include more men in the quest for equal opportunities

The aim of "Leaders for Equality" is to support companies in involving male managers for fostering equal opportunities. With our research, we first find out what male managers think about equality, what they can do to support women in management positions, what they already do, and also what equal opportunities realizes for them. Building on this, we develop innovative measures in collaboration with committed companies, which we then make available to all interested companies, managers and equality officers in an online toolbox.

Project goals and measures

With a nationwide quantitative survey of managers in all national languages and group discussions with men and women in management positions, we create the necessary knowledge about the current status quo: so far, there has been a lack of knowledge about the attitudes, experiences and ideas of male managers on the subject of gender equality.


Collaborating with five committed companies from various sectors, we develop measures and strategies to increase the proportion of women in management positions in the long term.

Knowledge transfer:

The measures developed are prepared in such a way that they can be used by companies throughout Switzerland. They are available in the form of an online toolbox on this website for transfer to companies, politicians and the general public. 

Cooperations: these companies joined our project

As part of the project, we work with numerous Swiss companies to examine the status quo as well as strategies and measures for involving male executives.

Feller AG + Schneider Electric (Switzerland) AG
Feller Logo       Schneider Logo
Feller AG is the leading Swiss technology partner in the electrical installation industry. Anyone living in Switzerland knows our switches and sockets. Timeless in design and of the highest quality, they accompany people throughout their lives. We have been developing and producing top-quality products in Horgen for over 100 years and are a renowned employer in the Lake Zurich region. Our core business is complemented by innovative electronic products and system solutions in building automation as well as home networks and electrical distribution. Around 420 employees work to achieve this every day.
Feller is part of Schneider Electric, one of the world's leading specialists for digital transformation in the fields of energy management and automation. Schneider 
Electric offers intelligent solutions for different segments including private households, building services, data center, infrastructure and industrial segments. With more than 140,000 employees and subsidiaries in over 100 countries, Schneider Electric is one of the world's market leaders in energy management, medium and low voltage as well as secure power supply and automation technology. We offer integrated efficiency solutions that seamlessly combine energy, automation and software. 
In Switzerland, the Schneider Electric Group owns Schneider Electric (Schweiz) AG and Feller AG, as well as the technology brands APC and Gutor Electronic and employs more than 1,000 people.


"One of our values at Schneider Electric is "Embrace different - diversity defines us". We stand 100% for integration. We do not tolerate discrimination. We believe in equal opportunities for all and everywhere. We regard gender- and age-mixed teams as an important success factor for our company. That's why we actively promote the development of women and our global Flex@Work Policy offers very good conditions for reconciling professional and private life. We are part of this study because increasing the proportion of women is an ongoing challenge for us as a technology company, and we want to make the most of all meaningful opportunities in this respect. We hope that the study, which seeks also active involvement from our own executives, will provide us with new starting points and ideas on how we can move forward together."

Dr. Rasmus Oertel, HR Director, Schneider Electric Switzerland
Helvetia Insurance

Helvetia Logo EN

In 160 years, the Helvetia Group has grown from a number of Swiss and foreign insurance companies into a successful international insurance group. With some 6,600 employees, the company provides services to more than 5 million customers. 


"Helvetia respects and promotes diversity and the uniqueness of its employees. Helvetia believes that different views lead to positive friction and innovative ideas. We are convinced that with gender-mixed leadership we can strengthen Helvetia to be an agile, customer-centered and innovative company and achieve its goals. That's why we want to increase the number of women in management positions. From the study, we hope to get concrete starting points for how we can mobilize executives and thus promote diversity." 
Hans-Caspar Schegg, Head HR Business Partner International & 
Manuela Bärtsch Forster, Diversity& Inclusion Responsible
Genossenschaft Migros Ostschweiz
Migros Ostschweiz Logo
The Migros Ostschweiz cooperative is one of the largest of a total of ten regional cooperatives in the Migros Group. It has its headquarters in Gossau SG. Its economic territory comprises the cantons of SG, AI, AR, TG, GR, SH and ZH as well as the Principality of Liechtenstein. The company operates very successfully in the supermarket, specialist retailer and catering sectors as well as in the education and leisure sectors. The Migros Ostschweiz cooperative employs around 10,000 people and more than 90 nationalities.

"With a proportion of  women of around 63% of the total workforce, Migros is "female". At the same time, the proportion of women in management positions is significantly lower and even decreases as the hierarchy rises. This is in spite of the fact that the Migros Group's overall state employment contract stipulates equal opportunities and measures to improve the compatibility of work and family life.
Migros Ostschweiz aims to significantly increase the proportion of women in management positions at all management levels. Consequently, the "Leaders for Equality" project of the University of St.Gallen is very convenient for us. We hope to obtain concrete measures to achieve this goal. The project's underlying approach of consciously and purposefully using male managers as supporters is very promising."

René Frei, Leiter Direktion Personelles
Fabienne Wullschleger, Leiterin Betriebliches Gesundheitsmanagement / Mitarbeitendenberatung
Schweizerische Bundesbahnen SBB

SBB Logo

SBB is the backbone of the Swiss public transport system, and daily rail operations are our basis. SBB has been transporting people and goods for over 100 years. We thus make an important contribution to the quality of life and the competitiveness of Switzerland. We want to continue this success story in times when the entire economy and society, as well as the mobility industry, are undergoing profound change. That is why we will continue to assume our responsibility for public transport and Switzerland in the future. Every day, we transport more than 1.25 million passengers and 205,000 tons of goods to their destinations. But we are more than just railways: 32,300 passionate employees make us the backbone of Swiss public transport and work with us on our vision for the mobility of the future.
Welcome to SBB.

"Genuine and practiced equal opportunities require the inclusion of all sexes. In a joint discourse, all sexes are called upon to seek solutions. At SBB, we have also focused on the promotion of women in recent years in order to increase the consistently low proportion of women. The change has remained modest. For us, the project is successful if it can show potential levers, opportunities and prospects for equal opportunities for all sexes and how it can contribute to the company's success."

The project is supported by an expert advisory board of five people.

Expert Advisory Board

Members of the advisory board are:

Jürg Eggenberger Photo

Jürg Eggenberger
Executive Director Schweizer Kaderorganisation (SKO)

Jürg Eggenberger studied Economics at the University of Zurich and completed a master's degree in services marketing and management as well as further education in organizational development. Since 2013, he is managing director of the Swiss cadre organization SKO ( and board member of the sfb Bildungszentrum. Previously, he was Rector of Kalaido University of Applied Sciences and has held senior management functions and seats in boards of directors as well as in foundations in various industries. He is co-author of the practice-oriented textbook "Flexible Workforce - Fit for the Challenges of the Modern Work Environment?".

«Why do I participate in this project? Firstly, because the SKO supports goals, projects and measures to realize true equality of men and women. Secondly, because the proportion of women at management level in Switzerland stagnates – despite many initiatives. Switzerland has one of the lowest rate of women in management positions compared to EU countries. The quality of women's leadership cannot be the reason why women are not getting leadership positions. Research has long shown that mixed-gender teams increase the quality of decision-making and increase creativity and innovation, as well as better reflect market needs. For demographic reasons too, it makes sense to increase the proportion of women in the labor market. The promotion of women also affects men. They feel threatened as thought patterns are broken and behaviors are questioned. Their inclusion in funding programs is so far poor. They need to be able to understand what the added value of promoting women is for the company and, for those affected as victims, in order to be able to support measures. The project aims to cover this gap.»

Andy Keel Portrait

Andy Keel 
Founder of Gender Diversity Consulting Do-it-smart and owner of the Teilzeit AG 

Over 10 years of experience in the strategic anchoring and operational implementation of flex work and gender diversity in medium and large companies.

«With the campaign "Teilzeitmann" (part-time man), more than 100'000 men could acquire part-time positions. With this expertise, it was a must for me to support the initiators in this important project.»

Betina Balitzki

Betina Balitzki

Head of Diversity at Suva

Betina Balitzki is a passionate and highly experienced senior diversity expert with many years of experience in the telecommunications industry. Her different roles, e.g. as Operations Executive, HR Manager, Product Manager or Area Sales Manager, enable her to ask and answer strategic, intercultural and human questions extensively and with deep understanding.

Her background is in business and languages. She holds a Master's degree in Business from the University of The Hague. Various further training courses, e.g. as facilitator for change and innovation (IDEO) and Strategies for Female Leadership (IMD), as well as a degree as HBDI Coach II, help her in her daily interaction with people and in projects.

Due to her many years of responsibility as Head of Diversity from 2009 to 2015 at SWISSCOM AG, she was able to build up a large network in the Swiss economy, in politics and in education. She was a member of the Board of Trustees of SWONET, a sponsor of Generation CEO and supports various projects at universities on diversity and inclusion. 

"People and opportunities is my passion in the sense of diversity and to enable maximum use of potential and innovation".

Her mother tongue is German. She has grown fond of English and Dutch, as well as her husband and children, with whom she lives in the centre of the Swiss capital of Berne.

Josef Dabernig

Josef Kruckenberg
Product Owner, Drupalista at Liip

Josef works as a consultant for the open source web technology Drupal as well as Scrum and other agile practices at the interface of different interdisciplinary teams.

"Equal opportunities and a diverse team are important to me. Over the last few years as a manager, I have come to appreciate working with a wide variety of people both locally and internationally. I am convinced that we and our clients can only benefit if leadership is balanced, irrespective of gender or age. Most interesting to me is the question to which extent self-organization and diversity are connected. I am looking forward to some exciting research results, as well as a lively exchange within the project."

Seitz Yvonne Advisory Board

Yvonne Seitz
Diversity expert, columnist, member of management board, lecturer as well as HR business partner AXA

Yvonne Seitz built up diversity management at AXA - the largest Swiss insurance company - and received various awards, including the Prix Balance and the Prix Egalité. Today, she passes on her knowledge at various universities and universities of applied sciences as well as in diversity coaching. In addition, she has been writing about the changes in the workplace as a columnist for 5 years. Yvonne Seitz is also a foundation council and board member. The focus of her work is always on demographic, social as well as technological change and the associated effects on human resources policy. Prior to this, the mother of two children worked for eight years as editor, presenter and producer at Swiss Television SRF and 3sat. The magazine "Women in Business" voted Yvonne Seitz one of the top 100 women in Switzerland in 2017.

"Why do I participate? For me, diversity has always meant bringing different perspectives together. This is because I am convinced that a diversity of perspectives leads to more innovation and better - because more comprehensively thought-out - solutions. Unfortunately, diversity too often is reduced to the topic of "promoting women". But diversity is much more than that: it is the inclusion of difference, whereby all sides can benefit from each other. In other words, if diversity works, then 1+1 = 3. So it is essential to also include the voice of men and to listen carefully what they have to say about diversity in terms of questions and ideas. Because the future will demand new paradigms from us...and for this we need the cooperation of women AND men".


Diana Kugelmann
Change Management and Communication Expert, HR Manager and Co-Owner of a Start-up Company

Diana Kugelmann studied business administration at the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University and Sociology at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. As a consultant, change manager (and in the last ten years as HR director and member of the executive board in well-known Swiss SMEs), she accompanies companies in change and transformation processes in HR topics, change management, communication and culture change. In addition, she runs an innovative retail concept in Zurich on Europaallee with her husband.

During the course of my career, and increasingly today, I am concerned and occupied with the issue of  the "future of work". Not only from a demographic point of view due to the shortage of skilled workers, but also because it is becoming more and more apparent that we are dependent on women in many different areas of professional life. Women now make up more than half of all university graduates yet still occupy a relatively small share of management positions. This is incomprehensible to me and needs to change. ,. 

Encourangly, however,I have met many great men in my professional life who really want to treat women and men equally and, in their eyes, are actively doing so. Unfortunately, the facts on the subject of equality in the workplace currently still speak a different language. The question is : how do we now arrive at the outcome of social development and genuine equality that the majority of us desire? 

This challenge can only be overcome together, with the inclusion of all genders, including men and without recriminations and accusations. 

I am very excited and optimistic about the findings and the possible future pathways this Research Project, starting here, will uncover.



Furthermore, the Handelszeitung and Schweizer Kaderorganisation (SKO) are strategic partners of this project.

Project Partner


The Handelszeitung is the largest business newspaper in Switzerland. Every week it provides its readers with valuable and useful information on the stock market, careers, investments and management. In addition, the editorial staff offers relevant news from the corporate world as well as researched industry and company histories. Their opinion articles are a liberal compass in everyday economic policy. The Handelszeitung was founded in 1861.

«The Handelszeitung has been covering the topic of "diversity" in business for many years.
Publishing those academic findings that lead to more equal opportunities in the world of business may be a source of inspiration for our readers.»

Stefan Mair Department Head Management Handelszeitung 



SKO Logo

The SKO is committed to the interests of managers and all those who wish to advance their careers. The SKO is the largest non-sector-specific network, with around 11,000 members and corporate partners, and brings together committed people who take on responsibility and want to share their knowledge and experience. We promote the exchange and transfer of know-how among ourselves - personally and online - for sustainable leadership and a competitive Switzerland.
As a member, the SKO accompanies you on your career path, keeps you fit to deal with the challenges of a digitalised, globalised and constantly changing working world, and supports you in your competence development and employability. In addition, members benefit from valuable services such as legal advice and coaching in management and career issues, regular networking events, guidance, mentoring and targeted training throughout Switzerland. 

«More women in management positions is a goal of the SKO. In Switzerland, little progress has been made in filling senior management positions with women. In fact, the higher the management level, the lower the proportion of women. Improvement is only possible through targeted cooperation. If the topic is more visible, then more men in particular may recognise the advantage of balanced gender distribution in management positions and may also commit themselves to it, the more familiar and attractive it becomes. The SKO is committed to making better use of women's potential. Diversity, as well as gender equality and work life balance in management are essential – for the success of companies and for the sustainable development of the Swiss workplace.» 

Jeannette Häsler Daffré, Head of Communication

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The Federal Office for Gender Equality provides financial support to the project «Leaders for Equality» in accordance with the Gender Equality Act.

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